It's only been a few weeks since the Met Gala 2023 theme was announced on Sept. 30. The theme honors Karl Lagerfeld, best known for his work as creative director of Chanel and his pioneering work at Fendi, Chloe, and more. The official released title is “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty”. As the Met explains, the theme's purpose is to "explore the artistic methodology and stylistic vocabulary of Karl Lagerfeld's designs through recurring themes across more than 65 years, from the 1950s to his final collection in 2019."
Despite Lagerfeld's undeniable contributions to the fashion industry, many were unafraid to express their mixed opinions on honoring him. In addition, Lagerfeld as a theme is almost incomparable to the creativity of past years. Themes like "Heavenly Bodies" (2018 theme) or "Camp" (2019 theme) allow for complete creative interpretation with slight guidelines, while a tribute does not.
Despite this issue, the concept of attributing a person to the theme does not come as a shock, as we have seen it before with Alexander McQueen and Rei Kawakubo. Rather, it is specifically the fact that Lagerfeld, who is known to have said a number of problematic statements in the past, is the one being honored. He has shared heavily contraversial opinions on many issues including racism, sexual assault, and body size. Just to give a few examples, after three models accused Karl Templer, Interview’s creative director, of sexual harassment, Lagerfeld said, “ If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re even recruiting”. He is also known to have made a number of additional fatphobic comments throughout the years. He openly called Adele “a little too fat”, and described Heidi Klum as “simply too heavy and has too big a bust”. These are just a few of several examples of problematic comments Lagerfeld has made.
The controversies surrounding Lagerfeld beg the question of if he deserves to be honored. Was there no better candidate? On top of the fact that tributes are generally not a popular theme, a problematic designer being chosen leaves many with a sour taste in their mouths.